It has been estimated that each year the Wheel-Trans Department of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) provides service to approximately three million riders around the city – so it goes without saying that its infrastructure has a lot of traffic to support.
And like any organization of its size, it runs into problems from time to time. The TTC found that the scheduling and management systems for Wheel-Trans, a paratransit service for the city’s disabled, was outdated, inefficient, and causing problems for its drivers and riders.
As a result, Anthony Iannucci, the TTC’s CIO, decided it was time to take action.
“Our business problem was that we needed to maximize our productivity when carrying our passengers,” said Iannucci. “We wanted to increase the amount of service to our customers.”
More than that, the TTC wanted to ensure that its service was consistent and reliable, so that no passengers would be left behind. It also wanted to provide its riders with more accurate route information and wait times.
It was facing several roadblocks in this endeavour. Wheel-Trans’ scheduling system was based on two different technologies, Giro and INIT. To compound the issue, some of the scheduling and trip management changes were dispatched individually by radio and and recorded by hand. It was evident that none of these methods were working in tandem.
To solve the problem, the TTC teamed up with Microsoft Consulting Services. Microsoft helped the TTC understand where Giro and INIT worked well together and where they didn’t, and began to develop the technologies needed to bridge the gap between the two.
The final product was a platform built on Microsoft’s BizTalk server, which ensured a seamless integration of the TTC’s scheduling system and the AVL system.
“The current solution marries together the on-the-road log of the vehicle with the information for scheduling,” said Iannucci. “This allows us to optimize the runs in real-time.”
Iannucci says the solution has been working well. Productivity and efficiency have increased, and the public’s response to the updated system has been largely positive.
“It provides our organization with the flexibility it should,” said Iannucci.